Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)


To start, I want to say that I simply enjoyed seeing real Toronto locations in a movie.  That is to say, I enjoyed seeing places in Toronto that are meant to be places in Toronto and not places in New York City, etc.  As a Canadian and a resident of Toronto, I appreciate that the filmmakers retained the Canadian setting of the comic books.  By having Scott Pilgrim wander the aisles of Sonic Boom, the famous record store on Bloor Street West, or eat at the Pizza Pizza across from Honest Ed’s, the film achieves a fairly authentic representation of the Canadian indie/slacker world.  In fact, the setting is the most genuine aspect of the movie. Despite pulling off the video game flourishes and comedic quirks, director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) fails to deliver a story or characters we care about.  Although I haven’t read the comic books that the movie is based on, Michael Cera’s Scott Pilgrim seems pretty much like every other Michael Cera role.  Once again, Cera’s geeky awkwardness is charming, somewhat endearing, and a little bit annoying.

Freshness is not what Scott Pilgrim primarily lacks though; it is motivation.  After all, why does Scott even like Ramona Flowers (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead)?  Why on earth does he fight for her?  My own personal opinion that Ramona is empty, false, and unappealing aside, the film never even tries to convince us that Scott actually loves her.  His devotion is assumed.  Scott switches from liking seventeen-year-old Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) to Ramona because he dreamed about her, or something like that.  OK.  Defenders may plead the conventions of romance, but I will still consider the film superficial.  It’s mindless fun for geeks, gamers, and hipsters.

With Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright both defeated my negative expectations and failed to satisfy me.  I had anticipated being annoyed by the flashiness and video game format, but I ended up being entertained by those aspects of the film.  I was surprised to find out, however, that there was nothing behind the bright flashes and no purpose to the novel structure.

The film ends with a classic arcade game countdown to continue playing superimposed on a final shot of Toronto’s skyline at night.  While I wouldn’t ask for my money back, I’ll save the rest of my quarters for some other game.  Thank you, but I’ve had enough.

6 out of 10

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Directed by Edgar Wright; written by Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright; starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, and Kieran Culkin.